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Palm Beach

‘Palm Beach’ is an Australian film taking its cue from other works such as ‘The Big Chill’. A gathering of friends who meet for good times but end up with personal dramas being aired isn’t anything new. The way this is told is how you judge a movie’s success. Directed by Rachel Ward, ‘Palm Beach’ generally rises above the clichés to deliver a story as enticing as the title’s locale.

Frank (Bryan Brown) and his wife Charlotte (Gretta Scacchi) invite a group of friends, including Billy (Richard E Grant), Leo (Sam Neill) and Doug (Aaron Jeffrey) over to their idyllic Palm Beach home. Looking forward to several days of good times, what transpires is anything but. Old secrets and rivalries surface as the group grapples with the hand that fate has dealt them.

Despite having much light drama, ‘Palm Beach’ is an amiable film for a certain audience. There’s not much to worry viewers with the soft melodramatics deftly intertwining with gentle humour. The ensemble cast are pros at this type of film with their thespian muscles barely stretched. They give as much as the script allows with genuine chemistry shining through the screen.

The real star of the show is the gorgeous Palm Beach location. Ward successfully ensues she wrings much from the scenery as possible. This add to the lightness she wants to convey. The soundtrack adds immeasurably to the fun atmosphere, conjuring a party mood amongst the dramatics.

Those wanting escapist viewing without having to think too much will enjoy ‘Palm Beach’. The veteran cast do a fine job delivering the soufflé of a screenplay. It’s enjoyable seeing the Australian landscape used so well with more films like these sure to bring even more tourists to our sunny shores.

Rating out of 10: 7

Angel Has Fallen

There have been so many sequels and remakes lately, it’s hard to keep up. One seems the same as the other with Hollywood wheeling them out at a furious pace. ‘Angel Has Fallen’ is yet another instalment in a rather forgettable franchise. Following on from ‘Olympus Has Fallen’ and ‘London Has Fallen’, this 3rd outing revels in its unoriginality with various explosions blasting holes bigger than the ones in its story.

American Secret Service agent Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) is tasked with protecting the President Allan Trumbull (Morgan Freeman). Framed for an assassination attempt on Trumbull, Banning goes on the run. Hunted by the FBI, he must fight for survival whilst exposing the true culprit. Time isn’t on his side as death lurks in the shadows ready to drag Banning into its ethereal clutches.

‘Angel Has Fallen’ is very much by the numbers. Everything moves at a mechanical pace with its predictability both a saving grace and curse. You know where the story goes with its riff on the ‘person on the run’ motif receiving yet another airing. Butler does his best as the barrel-chested he-man army even if his charisma is as blank as his facial expressions.

More welcome are the stunts of which ‘Angel Has Fallen’ has plenty. They are lovingly photographed with skill with each crack and noise felt. As a new entry in a franchise, ‘Angel Has Fallen’ is interesting in that it is the hero who has to survive and not others. It mostly works in a mundane fashion with Ric Roman Waugh limply directing with an eye firmly on the paycheck.

A humdrum entry in a weak action series, ‘Angel Has Fallen’ offers reasonable thrills. It’s not the greatest example of the action genre but it isn’t the worst. Buying the items at the candy bar is probably more memorable than the film itself with the ailment of sequel-itis hovering over this mediocre yarn.

Rating out of 10: 5